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Mommy Dearest

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Samantha Bee in a "Love to give" campaign for eBay? In addition to all the harmonious "e"s and "b"s involved, it sounds like a natural match.

Bee is The Daily Show's delightfully energetic "most senior" correspondent and real-life mom of three. EBay is the Web's most senior e-tailer, targeting moms who are serious online shoppers and holiday festivizers. Chestnut, meet roaster—digitally speaking.

Created by Mekanism of San Francisco, the holiday campaign includes mobile and Facebook apps, and a cool online group-gifting idea. But the centerpiece is the Bee—based Unwrap Attack Web series, which plays off of the Christmas freak-out meme that started over a decade ago on YouTube.

Like an advent calendar, Unwrap Attack unfolds with the season: three videos are posted and two more go up this week. So far, all I can ask is, how could so much 'Love to give' have gone so wrong?

The real trouble lies in eBay featuring the unwrap attack theme throughout the campaign in its attempt to own the Christmas freak-out. The meme was first seen on YouTube in a home video in which a little boy unwrapped his Nintendo 64 gift and went bonkers. It was cute—and he became an Internet sensation. Since then, there have been variations posted. In 2006, BMW even used the original footage in a holiday spot.

Here, users are encouraged to make their own Unwrap Attack videos and upload them to the Web site (lovetogive.ebay.com). But forcing these attacks to happen is, well, unseemly; the underlying psychology is more Mommy Dearest than Father Christmas.

Maybe it's a matter of tone. On The Daily Show, Bee plays a clueless yet aggressively self-assured reporter who skewers her subjects. It's funny because those she skewers are often as clueless and self-assured as she is, but they know what they're getting into. The puncturing is fair game. She plays the same smug, puffed-up character in the eBay videos, except she's a mom who interacts with kids. Punkin' the children: painful to watch!

In the first video, Bee plays a manipulative gifter in a fake house with a fake daughter, and I had the feeling the kid had better hyperventilate and screech on cue because Mama Claws worked hard to find the present. Bee throws the gift at the kid from a distance, as if giving food to a caged tiger, and then turns to look into the camera as she waits for the response. The girl gives a splendid performance.

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